Louis Holmes, MBA
June 20, 2019

I had not planned on taking care of my Mom.  The woman who had birthed and raised me had fallen and had two fractures in her pelvis, low oxygen count and was in the hospital where they said she was malnourished only weighing 87 pounds.  What??? Mom had lived on her own since Dad had died several years before and was such a vibrant, active person that this was hard to believe. She had gone on Boy Scout camp outs with my nephew at age 76!  As the reality of her situation sunk in I found myself on the doorstep of parenting my parent.  

 

What do I do now living four hours away and not able to just be there any time she needed me?  How do I make sure she has great care?  I had not planned on this!

 

I had heard that being a caregiver could be taxing emotionally, physically, and certainly financially.  Man was that right!  Mom ended up in a swing-bed unit with Medicare paying for around 90 days.  I knew this was short-lived and she would need continued care to fully recover.  I arranged for home health care which included physical therapy for when she exited the hospital.  But they would not live with her, so I had to find a local service who would provide care 24/7.  Did I mention I lived four hours away and all this was done by phone which took at least a week to complete after screening people and services, checking costs, confirming they were a legitimate licensed provider?  I had not planned on managing her finances as well as care-givers as well as sisters and grandchildren complaining about her care as well as …..well you get it.  This was taxing emotionally, physically and financially!

 

Mom and Dad had not purchased an extended care plan of any type leaving their remaining assets following Dad's passing exposed to the threat of health care costs.  This is the dilemma that many elders face according The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, they estimate that about half (52%) of Americans turning 65 today will develop a disability serious enough to require extended care, although most will need assistance for less than two years. About one in seven adults, however, will have a disability for more than five years.[1]

 

The in-home care lasted for five months all the while I was working with the local Medicaid office (4 hours away) to make sure Mom would qualify for an assisted living or nursing home facility when her money ran out.  After selling land, her home, her car and the remaining stocks she held they said she qualified.  But this was not without multiple face to face meetings at Medicaid and my sisters and I checking out at least 6 different facilities where we felt comfortable placing Mom for care.  The first one was a dud!  After 90 days we transferred her to a wonderful place full of loving, kind people who treated Mom like she was their Mom.  Just short of angels!!  

 

The moral of the story is this...if your parents have not planned for an extended care situation then you should plan to parent your parent(s).  I was worn down emotionally and physically. I realized I would personally need my own plan to remain independent of my children taking care of me.  

 

I encourage you to speak with a financial advisor about the options your parents have with a traditional or asset-based extended care plan.  Had one of these plans been in place for my Mom, a personal concierge at the insurance company would have helped us quickly find and pay for the quality of care she needed while protecting assets she wanted to pass along to her children and grandchildren.  

[1] *U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy. “Long-Term Care Services and Support for Older Americans: Risk and Financing Research Brief”.  CRN202011-239782‍
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